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Tactical Nuclear Weapons: A vital cog in Islamabad's scheme of things

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New Delhi, Sep 23: Pakistan has developed Tactical Nuclear weapons for a specific reason and it has a big role to play in its strategy to counter India in the event of war. There is nothing new about Imran Khan hinting that Pakistan could lose a conventional war with India. Pakistan's military establishment always knew about it and has made contingency plans. The only thing new about it is that a leader at such a prominent post speaking about it openly.

Image for representation only

Pakistan always knew it very well that it cannot match India in conventional warfare and to counter this it has developed tactical nuclear weapons. There is something that the Pakistanis fear and it is called Cold Start Doctrine. Cold Start doctrine is said to be an offensive plan of the Indian forces intended to quickly mobilise forces and subdue Pakistan before it even considers nuclear retaliation.

In January this year, Pakistan test-fired short-range ballistic missile "Nasr". It is believed that Nasr can carry a small-yield "sub-kilotonne" nuclear bomb. Defence experts say that tactical nuclear weapon (TNW) Nasr would most likely be used on advancing Indian forces inside Pakistan territory.

If a nuclear weapon - tactical or strategic - is used against Indian forces inside Indian territory then New Delhi's retaliation would be massive. Because then, India can use nuclear weapons without having to worry about NFU or No First Use. India would claim that a nuclear weapon was used in its territory so it is well within its rights to unleash its nuclear arsenal which is formidable.

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In 2018, Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had made a strange remark. He said, "Nasr has put cold water on India's cold start".

A few months ago, OneIndia spoke to Defence and strategic matters expert Major General PK Sehgal to get a better understanding about Tactical Nuclear Weapons.

"Pakistan developed tactical nuclear weapons primarily to deal with India's cold start launch. The cold start doctrine is a plan to attack from several fronts concurrently which will break through the hinterland of Pakistan. Pakistan knows that conventional they cannot put up fight against India, so they have gone for the creation of tactical nuclear weapons. It is aimed at stopping Indian Armour onslaught in their own territory," Major General Sehgal told OneIndia.

A tactical nuclear weapon (TNW), also called non-strategic nuclear weapon, is a weapon that is generally smaller in its explosive power. It is designed to be used in battlefield situations, in contrast to strategic nuclear weapons which are designed to be mostly targeted in the enemy interior away from the war front. Tactical nuclear weapons are of the range of 20-60 km with a blast radius of 3-5 km. These are developed to be used as a deterrent against aggression on the border and not for a full-fledged war.

To read Major General PK Sehgal's full interview: Click Here

Once Pakistan uses a nuclear weapon in any form, Indian retaliation would be unimaginable as New Delhi will not be bound by 'No First Use' policy. India had declared 'No First Use' (NFU) as a policy; Pakistan is averse to it and feels that NFU in principle negates its deterrence advantage against India.

Pakistan's nuclear weapons are intended to compensate for conventional forces which are largely believed to be lagging behind India. What Pakistan must keep in mind is that India has fairly developed secondary strike capability. India has ballistic missiles with a nuclear warhead that can be launched from submarines in short notice. Pakistan can rest assured that any use of nukes- tactical or strategic - the retribution will be swift, severe and devastating threatening its very existence.

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